Top law enforcement officials from across the U.S., meeting in Coral Gables, Fl., are urging their colleagues to build trust — not fear — among immigrant communities, reports the Miami Herald. The group argues that undocumented migrants often refuse to report crime — both as victims and as witnesses – because they fear being deported.
Those who enter the U.S. illegally ‘”are not criminals. It’s a civil issue,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, president of the National Latino Peace Officers Association. The Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative seeks to add a pragmatic voice to the immigration debate. Led by former Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas Jr., the group hopes to convince Congress that current policies makes police work more difficult. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says its voluntary 287(g) program, which permits local police forces to perform immigration law enforcement duties, has led to reductions in crime.